‘Statement win’ leads Dak Prescott to talk about the Dallas Cowboys’ new culture

·6 min read

Legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, a newly-minted member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, recalled one of his best quotes from the team’s glory years at halftime of Monday’s 41-21 blowout victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“How about them Cowboys!” Johnson exclaimed, inducing a roar from the capacity crowd at AT&T Stadium as he received his Hall of Fame Ring along with Cliff Harris and Drew Pearson before a host of the team’s other Hall of Famers such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett.

How about them Cowboys, indeed.

In what was easily the finest performance since Mike McCarthy took over as head coach before the 2020 season, the Cowboys announced to the rest of NFL before a prime time audience on ESPN’s Monday Night Football that the glory days may be coming again.

It was a total beatdown that gave the Cowboys their second straight win of the season, their first winning record since the week before Thanksgiving of 2019 and sole possession of the top spot in the NFC East for the first time since they started the 2019 season 5-3.

“This is a good win, a very good win for us,” McCarthy said. “First division game, we played some really good football Week 1 and 2. But to beat a division opponent by two plus scores, it’s a good win. We’re getting better, we’ve got a lot of room to grow, and that’s what’s exciting.”

McCarthy said everyone should recognize by now that the Cowboys are a different football team from a year ago.

The most impressive thing about the victory was the domination on both sides of the ball in what quarterback Dak Prescott called “a statement win” that set off a water-bottle party in the post-game locker room.

“Yeah, I mean it feels great,” Prescott said. “Like you said, complete. Defense, offense, complementary football. All the way around. That was fun. I think that shows just the brotherhood that we’re creating and the culture we’re creating within this team. That’s just one and that’s a step and that was a big step and a building block of where we’re going and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Excellence was certainly expected on offense with Prescott, who missed the final 11 games of last season with a fractured ankle, playing in front of the home crowd for the first time in nearly a year. Three games into the season he has shown that he is back, and better than ever.

With a quarterback rating of 143.3, Prescott was Aikman-like in his efficiency. He completed 21 of 26 passes for 238 yards and touchdowns of 19 and 22 yards to tight end Dalton Schultz and another of two yards to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson.

McCarthy said Prescott is playing better than he was last year when he lead the league in passing yards and was on pace to shatter the NFL record for passing yards in a season before the ankle injury.

Prescott agrees.

“For sure. I just think everything that I’ve been through — I said it earlier in the year, and I’ll say it again — I think just getting hurt last year and having to sit back and watch football, a different perspective and just different ways people play this game,” Prescott said. “Going back, the experience obviously has helped, but just studying and preparing myself and then all the work that I’ve put in just to get back healthy, not only the leg but the shoulder and just this playbook. I’m just comfortable in this system and everything that is going on around me and having playmakers. Yeah, I feel like I’m playing the best I’ve ever played.”

Add in a solid two-headed ground attack with running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, and the Cowboys moved the ball at will Monday night.

Elliott rushed 17 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. It was his 11th multi-touchdown game of his career, good for third all-time.

Pollard, who led the team in rushing in the first two games, added 60 yards on 11 carries.

But it was the team’s improved defense that had a coming out party of its own, showing that it wasn’t the same horrible unit that was among the worst in franchise history during last season’s disappointing 6-10 campaign.

The defense held the Eagles to just one first down and 55 yards in the first quarter, while the offense rolled up 182 yards and 14 first downs.

The Eagles got a quick touchdown when Prescott was sacked and fumbled in the end zone following an interception by Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown at the 1-yard line.

It didn’t get better for the Eagles in the second quarter as the Cowboys led 19-3 in first downs at halftime.

The only blemish, outside of the fumble, was a missed extra point from kicker Greg Zuerlein.

A 20-7 halftime lead became 27-7 advantage after the opening drive of the third quarter when cornerback Trevon Diggs returned a Jalen Hurts interception 59 yards for a touchdown.

It was the third interception in as many games for Diggs, who has let the NFL know that his part of the secondary is a no-fly zone.

The Cowboys lead the NFL with eight takeaways in three games as they continued a trend that began at the end of last season when they recorded 16 takeaways in their final eight games.

The score was 34-14 in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys rookie defense tackle Osa Odighizuwa and rookie linebacker/defensive end Micah Parsons rag-dolled Hurts for a sack on 4th-and-10 with roughly eight minutes to play, sending the crowd into an Eagles-feedingfrenzy and setting up Prescott’s second touchdown to Schultz.

Hurts, the former Oklahoma star, was downright awful for much of the night. He completed 25 of 39 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Most of his numbers came after the game was already out of hand.

“The defense set the tone,” McCarthy said. “You talk about complimentary football, that’s what you’re looking for. I think all three phases contributed to the win. The defense played with tremendous energy, and this was a different offense with an enormous amount of screens, a lot space, a lot of speed.”

It was a performance the Cowboys hope to use to build some momentum in what was their second straight win and first of three straight home games at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys host the undefeated Carolina Panthers (3-0) next Sunday followed by their next division opponent, the winless New York Giants (0-3), on Oct. 10.

Prescott said that he hopes the team can build upon the early season success. “It’s the momentum more than anything that we’re trying to capture,” he said. “We’re trying to get rolling.”

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